Matthew James Prior came into the India-England series as a shining prospect for England. What with him being the first English wicketkeeper to have scored a test century on debut and all that. Before Prior, England were desperate to find a proper wicketkeeper-batsman, a role which both Paul Nixon and Chris Read couldn't perform to the selectors' satisfaction. After the West Indies tour, where Prior prospered, England had found their answer.
And now, after a month of playing India, Prior is left looking like the dumbest of wicketkeepers. His batting in which the selectors placed so much faith was horrible throughout the series. Scores of 1, 42, 11, 7, 0, 12 is hardly what you expect from a wicketkeeper-batsman.
But his biggest sins were obviously those innumerable catches he managed to drop throughout the series. Dropping players like Tendulkar and Laxman can be very painful for the opposition. I doubt if he would have been able to make up for those dropped catches even if he had gotten a century with the bat.
Prior's story is one which would normally deserve some sympathy. Still young in international cricket, he could be easily pitied citing cliches such as 'burden of expectations on young shoulders' or 'he has time on his side and will improve with experience' and so on.
But then he has lost any claim to sympathy too, given his antics on the field. If he chooses not to realize that he is still a youngling when he resorts to hassling the batsmen from behind the stumps and if he chooses to put his own incompetence in the background while picking on the opposition players then the same excuses of being young and inexperienced cannot be brought up in his defence.
That lesson of giving respect in order to deserve any and of concentrating on one's own job rather than that of others might be the biggest lessons that Prior could take from this test series.
Something he could learn from Dhoni maybe. Dhoni was not exactly spectacular behind the stumps, but in contrast to Prior, he was atleast sensible enough to remain quiet there.